Lon Adams, the man who created the recipe for Slim Jim beef jerky, has died from COVID-19 complications at the age of 95. Adams' passing was confirmed by the Brown-Wynne Funeral Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, with the obituary noting that a funeral service for Adams was held on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. Adams passed away on November 28th.
Born Alonzo Theodore Adams II on March 15, 1925 in Davenport, Iowa, Adams served in the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II who saw combat in Holland and Belgium and was injured in the Battle of the Bulge in 1945. Upon returning from war, Adams went to school, ultimately earning a master’s degree in Microbiology from Iowa State University. He went on to work for Goodmark Foods in 1968, eventually retiring as principal scientist for the company in 1991. Goodmark Foods was purchased by Conagra in 1998.
Adams' best known accomplishment is his development of the Slim Jim jerky formula. While Adolph Levins first invented Slim Jim in 1928, it was Adams who created the current recipe used by the brand in its popular jerky product. Adams worked on the recipe for more than 20 years, developing the formula through what a piece in The New York Times in 1996 described as a lengthy process that required ground beef, chicken meat, and a range of spices and chemicals. The feature referred to Adams as "a towering figure in Jimology" and noted that the recipe at that time was locked up at corporate headquarters in Raleigh.
"Conagra Brands was saddened to learn the passing of Lon Adams, and we extend our condolences to his family and loved ones," a spokesperson for Conagra Brands, which manufactures Slim Jim, told CNN. "We are grateful for the contributions that Lon made to Slim Jim."
According to Adams' obituary, he is survived by his daughter Eleanor, son Eric, and three grandchildren.